Ho Chi Minh City Culture and History
Physical evidence exists to suggest that the earliest inhabitants of Vietnam settled here as far back as half a million years ago, with significant settlements appearing in what is now Hanoi some 10,000 years ago. The arrival of the Han Chinese in 214 BC marked the beginning of civilisation in the area, with the establishment of a military post here bringing development to the greater area.
The Chinese exercised considerable control over local tribal inhabitants for a number of centuries using brute force as a means of ruling, and gaining themselves reputations as oppressors. By 938 AD, however, the locals had organised themselves under the leadership of Ngo Quyen and prepared to rebel. An autonomous Vietnamese state was subsequently created, although it fell into anarchy following Ngo Quyen's death.
Hanoi found order again in the four centuries that followed and successfully become the political seat of the country. With this new-found importance, the city began embellishing its appearance with grand architecture, erecting important buildings such as the Grand Royal enclosure and the Temple of Literature, as well as Vietnam's first university. Developments didn't go unnoticed by outsiders, and Hanoi became an attractive target for the Chinese, Khmer and Kublai Khan.
At the beginning of the 15th century, the city fell to the Chinese again, but on this occasion their control was short-lived. The locals vehemently defended their territory under the leadership of warrior Le Loi. Under Le Loi, the Chinese were rapidly ousted and Vietnamese independence was reestablished.
French troops arrived in 1864, adding Hanoi to the list of Vietnamese cities already under their control. Local resistance was futile against the might of the French army and consequently Hanoi's citizens resigned themselves to French control for close to a century. The French were eventually forced out following a serious of battles with the Viet Minh.
During WWII, Hanoi, like many destinations in Indochina, fell to the Japanese. Japanese occupation began in 1940 and it wasn't until 1945 that they were successfully removed by the Viet Minh with the assistance of the United States who donated arms and money to the war effort.
The Vietnam War lasted from 1965 to 1975, during which time Hanoi managed to sustain very little in the way of damage owing to the fact that the conflict was concentrated mainly in the south of the country. When the north and south were reunited after the war, Ho Chi Minh City was demoted as the country's capital and the title subsequently bestowed upon Hanoi.